Awhile back, one of my twitter followers, after having a discussion about something totally unrelated, tweeted: I circumcised my son, are you going to unfollow me now?
I’m a very vocal intactivist. Most people know, when they follow me on social media, I’m going to talk about circumcision.
I’m going to talk about the unethics of it. I’m going to challenge the morality of removing erogenous tissue from non-consenting minors. I’m going to post links and blog articles discussing some of the very tragic things that can result from cutting the genitals of children.
So when someone tweets something like this to me, it makes me stop, because I know there is deep pain in those words. It’s not like she’s suddenly been blindsided by my intactivism. No, behind those words is a very real wound, most likely caused by the truth of circumcision and the actions of intactivists.
And I can’t sit here on my moral pedestal and pretend like I haven’t said some unhelpful things about this loaded topic. I had to scrap an earlier draft of this post because all that was coming out was snark. But in my evolution as an intactivist, I’ve also learned that as vindicating as snark may feel, it’s not going to save any babies.
I know many people who cut their sons, or are circumcised themselves, who see nothing wrong with removing healthy genital tissue from babies. I know people who know it’s unnecessary and painful and traumatic, and shrug their shoulders because they prefer the aesthetics of a bald penis.
Obviously this makes my heart break, because I see children as autonomous people, with their own set of rights, independent of the ones parents grant them. Yes, intact genitals are a human right, even when parents prefer circumcised ones.
But I don’t think these people are bad parents, and I’m sure most of them love their children dearly. In fact, most people circumcise their sons because they believe it’s what is best for them, and many more simply because they don’t see anything wrong with circumcision.
However, I also know history will be on my side. I know cultural attitudes and ethics will move in the direction of bodily autonomy for children. I know the idea that children as extensions and property of their parents is an archaic idea that the human race is evolving out of, ever so slowly.
So we can still be friends, and I won’t martyr you and your decision to cut your son’s healthy penis. I don’t think you are a bad parent. I don’t think you hate your children.
But I’m not going to stop talking about the unethics of circumcision because I want to move us to a point in our human history where we don’t cut the genitals of children anymore. Human progress has never been achieved through silence.
This week, intactivists are gathering in DC on the west lawn of the capitol to educate people about circumcision. It’s Genital Integrity Awareness Week, and for the 20th consecutive year, intactivists are raising awareness about child genital cutting.
I ask you, reader, to take the time this week to learn some of the facts about circumcision. When and why we started cutting the genitals of children, in a medical setting. What the purpose and role of foreskin is. After all, we evolved to have prepuce, every mammal on this planet. Read some of the stories of men who resent being circumcised against their will. Discover how many men are restoring their faux skins.
I believe that intact genitals are a human right, and circumcision violates medical ethics and human rights to bodily autonomy. I know the benefits of circumcision can be achieved without cutting babies, and I will never stay silent. I hope we can still be friends.
Maria Bangs is a social justice activist, attachment parent, and blogger at www.barreloforanges.com. When she’s not championing human rights, you can find her playing in the snow or surf, reading a good book, or on Twitter @barreloforanges
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